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Coveney says Ireland 'will try to find a way' to bring Lisa Smith home

The Dundalk woman told CNN she didn’t know whether or not she’d be imprisoned upon her return to Ireland.
Mar 25th 2019, 8:02 AM 70,095 157

Updated Mar 25th 2019, 1:30 PM

lisa smith Source: CNN

AN IRISH WOMAN being held in Syria who is suspected of links to terror group ISIS has said that she wants to come home.

Lisa Smith was speaking to a CNN journalist from a camp where she is being detained in the war-torn country.

Tánaiste Simon Coveney today said the Irish government has a responsibility towards its citizens will try to bring Smith home. 

The Dundalk native previously worked in the Irish Defence Forces but left service in 2011.

She went on to convert to Islam and married a Muslim man. It is believed she departed for Syria in 2015 after her marriage broke down. While there, she married a British man. It is understood he was killed two months ago. 

Smith told CNN: “I think the people should just realise all the people here are not terrorists.

“I want to go home,” she added.

When asked what would happen if she did return to Ireland, she said she would be “watched” but didn’t know whether she’d be sent to prison.

Smith said: “I’m already in prison.”

img_9634-3 Lisa Smith Source: Tom Conachy

Coveney said Smith’s case is a consular one and “like all Irish people, we want to look after them and bring them home if they want to come home”.

He told RTÉ News the case is a “particularly unusual” one.

It involves a young child, and a mother, both of them Irish citizens in a warzone, in a camp that was linked to some partners and children of ISIS fighters, controlled largely by Kurds, and so it is more complicated than most consular cases would be, to put it mildly, but we do have a responsibility here as a State…

“We will try to follow through on this responsibility and find a way to bring her home.

“Part of the problem here is that this is a former warzone and it isn’t easy to access. She also doesn’t have the capacity to communicate easily from where she is and we haven’t had direct contact with her,” Coveney said. 

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Taoiseach Leo Varadkar had previously indicated Smith will have the right to return to Ireland, and it will be the first case of Ireland repatriating a member of the Islamic State group if it occurs. 

Now that the Islamic State group has been defeated in north-east Syria, the Irish state may soon have to deal with the return of Irish citizens from the war zone.

The Explainer

In this week’s edition of’s The Explainer podcast, we delve into what happens if members of Islamic State return to Ireland, following defeat in Syria.

We examine the current state of play regarding Islamic State in Syria, why its members are leaving the country, and what Ireland’s options are for returning citizens. 

You can listen wherever you get your podcasts or via SoundCloud below – you can also head straight to iTunesSpotifyAcastPodBeanPodcast Republic, and Stitcher.

With reporting from Órla Ryan and Michelle Hennessy

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Sean Murray


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